Hornwort is a common plant that can be found in the natural world. However, it has several uses for those who own aquariums. The plant can not only be used to decorate an aquarium tank, but it also can serve to improve the environmental quality of the tank itself. In addition, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to install in a tank.
What Is Hornwort?
Hornwort (Ceratophyllum demursum) is found throughout the world in lakes and streams. It is a green plant with a main stem and fine needles that sprout from it in small clusters. The stems can grow up to 24 inches long, and the leaves can reach 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long. Hornwort does not have a root system and is able to float. It also grows quickly; and under artificial lighting, it can grow an inch a day. It can grow in both cold and warm water.
Environmental Benefits of Hornwort in an Aquarium
The hornwort plant has several environmental benefits for aquarium owners. One is that hornwort absorbs the chemicals found in the waste of fish or from the tap water itself. These include nitrates, ammonia, carbon dioxide and phosphates. The plant uses these waste products as food in order to grow, and, in the process, oxygenates the water. Because of its ability to clean the water, hornwort makes a natural supplement to a man-made water filter for an aquarium.
The Benefits of Hornwort to Eggs and Fry
Because hornwort has such fine and dense leaves, the plant makes a great place for fish eggs. Eggs that are sticky will stick to the plant’s leaves. Baby fish, also known as fry, and smaller adult fish often live in the close quarters of the thick leaves. This is because the leaves offer safety. Also, hornwort can be better for cultivating young fish that are sensitive and need special care in order to nurture.
Decorative Benefits of Hornwort
Finally, hornwort has the benefit of being an inexpensive plant that can be used to decorate an aquarium. All that an aquarium owner has to do is weigh down the hornwort and place it in the tank. Serious aquarium owners can even grow the plant themselves at home. When it grows in bright light, hornwort can turn red. However, hornwort is considered a temporary plant. Since it grows fast, it can quickly outgrow the tank that it was originally intended for.
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Bill Sassani started writing in 2007, contributing to several online publications. He is also the author of "A Backpacker's Guide to Philmont." Sassani holds a B.A. in history from Penn State University and an M.A. in outdoor education from the University of Northern Colorado.